Nepal Maoists lose another battle, vow to disrupt parliament

May 30th, 2009 - 4:22 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, May 30 (IANS) After losing its battle with the army and being forced to step down from power, Nepal’s Maoist party suffered a second reverse Saturday with the chairman of the interim parliament refusing to allow them a debate in the house.

“I held consultations with the lawmakers, who were polarised on the issue. The Maoist motion for a debate can’t be allowed,” said Subhash Nembang, chairman of the constituent assembly that also serves as Nepal’s interim parliament.

The refusal comes as a second blow for the former ruling party that is now virtually isolated in the house where it once reigned supreme.

The debate was to have been a sequel to the battle with army chief General Rookmangud Katawal, whom the Maoists tried to sack but failed. While its own allies refused to sack the general, the Maoist defeat was complete after President Ram Baran Yadav stepped into the ring and reinstated Katawal.

Reduced to minority, the Maoist government had to resign and a new government headed by the Communists took over this week.

However, the former guerrillas had hoped for a victory of sorts when they trained their guns on the president and sought his removal.

They began demanding a debate in parliament over Yadav’s move, calling it unconstitutional and putting the military above civilian supremacy. They also demanded a vote in the house to ascertain if the re-appointment was constitutional.

For nearly three weeks, Nepal’s interim parliament lay paralysed as the Maoists pledged not to allow any other work till their motion was admitted. The disruption held up the election of a new prime minister and created a political vacuum.

Finally, last Saturday, they lifted the siege and allowed the election after their motion against the president was admitted.

However, as they awaited a full-fledged debate on the motion, the house chairman vetoed it, saying it would not be continued.

“This is rank dictatorship,” said a livid Dinanath Sharma, spokesman of the Maoist party. “The constitution and law say that any motion introduced by a member has to be admitted for discussion. It is a bid to stifle the voice of opposition and shows there is no democracy.”

Sharma said his party would continue its battle to initiate a debate on the presidential move in the house.

“Till that happens, we will not allow the house to function,” he said.

Nembang called a session of the house at 7 p.m., which the Maoists dubbed a conspiracy.

“When the entire day is there, why should the house be convened at night? It smacks of a conspiracy,” Sharma said.

The chairman’s refusal has now set the stage for an even more bitter battle between the Maoists and the Communists, who are still struggling to name a full-fledged government.

The new Communist Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, who replaced Maoist premier Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda Monday, has a fledgling three-member cabinetx. Bitter infighting in his own party as well as his main allies has retarded the formation of a full cabinet.

Though Madhav Kumar says his top priority is writing a new constitution by next summer, the growing Maoist opposition will make it near-impossible.

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